Tag Archives: rants are better than coffee

Irritable

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I like to consider myself even-tempered. Aside from the somewhat-frequent occasional  gin&tonic induced moments of bliss and the odd nervous-breakdown, I have the emotional variation of sand. Today, however, my mind is in a freefall toward murderous rage. I’m not quite there yet (as I write this, I’m somewhere at dark cloud hanging over head, but trying to fight it) and I’m really hoping no unfortunate thing or creature will push me over that precipice.

I woke up happy. I even had a rock-out moment to Plain White Tees with my nephew. Breakfast was good; I actually got to chew and swallow it – usually I have to inhale some juice before running out the door with one shoe on.

So whence did this melancholy descend? It was somewhere around the old taxi park. Some time between trying  to dodge brainless veering bodabodas and taxis while simultaneously trying not to land on my ass on the putrid, slimy, pothole-filled thing that passes for a road. The place smells like chemicals and chickenfeed, you can’t tell where the garbage stops and the road begins and the textile sellers, fruit vendors, serious people like myself and general loafers are all jostling for the same two inches of “clean” walking space. AARGH!!!

I finally reach my destination, or rather, as far as the taxi will take me, and I have to get a boda to work. Something about the way that blockhead rode made me want to crack open his skull and rip out his brains [I think we’re somewhere close to murderous rage now] – unfortunately, he didn’t have any. His contraption kept stopping until I decided I’d get to my office faster if I crawled, so I got off, may or may not have muttered curses his way and walked.

Even my newly compiled 90s playlist didn’t calm me down. Now I’m at work and I’m going to sit quietly and not tempt Fate until the day ends. At least tomorrow’s a holiday. Sigh.

Well, he got the ‘unbearable’ part right!

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera

 This book is on BBC’s list of 100 books to Read Before You Die. It comes highly praised as a literary classic. But unless the Sunday Times was being sarcastic; or the Beeb placed it on the wrong list (it was supposed to be on 100 books that’ll make you want to die), then I can only disagree. Vehemently.

The ‘novel’ goes back and forth between the stories of Tomas, Tereza, Franz and Sabina, four Europeans whose adult lives are tied together by Tomas’ and Franz’s infidelities. Kundera doesn’t give the reader a chance to get to know these people. I knew about them, but I felt no real connection. I found it hard to picture faces and places; everything had the consistency of weak tea.

 There is only continuity, but by no means sense, to be found in the re-appearance of Sabina’s grandfather’s bowler hat, of Tereza’s birthmark and other such oddities.

Kundera’s mistake is that he constantly interjects, supplying his own views/ telling the reader what to think, instead of merely showing us through the characters’ actions. A book that steadily narrates, with very little dialogue, it’s hard enough to follow in the first place.

Or perhaps Kundera meant for his characters to be only secondary to his own philosophical views? To his reactions to Nietzsche and Kafka and Freud? But then, why parade it as a ‘novel’?

Kundera uses these 300 odd pages to muse on questions of the nature of love, of life under oppressive rule and of excrement. Yes. And while some writers might be able to do this successfully, he doesn’t. Man is a cow parasite, he tells us, (though he’s probably talking about a certain percent of humanity only) and goes on to say that attitude towards animals is a fundamental moral test of Man. We’ve failed. If this sort of pretentious muck is your bag, then by all means pick this book up.

I’m just glad I borrowed it from someone.

‘Omwana wa Bazungu’

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So yesterday, at the end of a long workday (Monday, no less), I walked to the ka-corner of a certain road in Nsambya from where I usually board a taxi to the park. I was standing there when I got a phonecall. I’d been talking (and waiting for a taxi to show up) for ages when one finally did.

The conductor, as they do, beckoned me over. I peeked inside; no room for me to sit. So I waved them away – I could only wave, as I was still talking on the phone. The taxi didnt move. He insisted on taking me. I made a vague hand-motion to mean, “Where in the world do you expect me to sit?”. He must have understood me, because he then asked the passengers in the second row to sikamu awo (loosely translated as: I know it’s a three-seater and you’re already 4 people plus 2 babies, but you just move up anyway so I can get an extra shs.500 out of your discomfort.)

I wasnt about to inconvenience anyone, and honestly didnt mind waiting for another taxi, so once again I shooed. Then. The gentleman at the front (next to the taxi driver) opened the door, got out, moved to said second row and asked me to come sit where he’d been. I marveled for a moment at this chivalry. Almost declined, and then thought, ah what the heck. he’s offered. So I clambered in.

Then.  The entire taxi burst into laughter. Mocking laughter. Derisive guffaws. Complete with Aahaa, hmm, kyokka ban’abaana ba bazungu! (hmm, these children of white people!). I ensconced my ass even further into the taxi seat, turned back and gave a smug smile.

It is just amusing to me how people could make fun of me for wanting to be comfortable.  I am parting with money. Shs500 only, but money no less. Do I not deserve to ride in (relative) comfort? It’s bad enough I dont have a car of my own or a chauffeur at my disposal – I will not enter a rotten, broken down taxi and allow to be treated like a sardine.

Kampalans need to learn to demand good service if they are paying for it. It’s not wrong to want good things for yourself, people.